Given that New York Magazine recently featured a cover story on polyamory depicting four cuddly cats, the concept of a “shared girlfriend” may not sound that odd.

But when Chinese startup Taqu (“Touch” in English) attempted to market its Shared Girlfriend doll rental service in 2017 — well, it was a bit odd.

Shared what now?

Taqu sells a variety of adult products, including sex dolls. Recognizing that the price of a high-quality silicone doll could be prohibitive, Taqu announced a service that allowed customers to rent one of five dolls — including one that looked like Wonder Woman — for a mere $46/day.

You might think that, given the nature of the product, Shared Girlfriend failed because people were unwilling to share something they did you-know-what with — though the modular lower half of each doll was to be removed and cleaned in between rentals.

But actually…

… Shared Girlfriend failed because the Chinese government did not like it. A Taqu spokesperson told Motherboard that the police had contacted them, calling the scheme “vulgar.” They’d also been fined ~$340.

Ultimately, Taqu shuttered the service before renting a single doll, but vowed to find other ways to normalize and discuss sexuality.

Today…

… companies are pioneering AI sex dolls, because of course they are. There’s also a burgeoning market for AI chatbots that act as companions and engage in spicy conversation.

Those are simpler and cheaper than dolls, too, and you don’t even have to share.

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